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It’s been a rough year for award shows. Despite the ravenous collective appetite for live performances after more than one year in lockdown, audiences have largely opted out of the hours-long ceremonies in 2021 — even as producers have adopted a hybrid of at-home and in-studio celebrity appearances.
The Golden Globes, Emmys, and Grammys all saw ratings nosedive this year (albeit following years of steady decline), with February’s Premio Lo Nuestro standing out as a notable exception. The 2021 edition of the long-running Latin music awards ceremony aired live from the soon-to-be-former American Airlines Arena. The newer Latin American Music Awards is undoubtedly hoping its move to South Florida yields similar success.
The Latin AMAs debuted live from Los Angeles’ Dolby Theater in 2015, airing from the Hollywood venue each subsequent year before going on hiatus in 2020 owing to the pandemic. Ostensibly taking advantage of Florida’s lax COVID-19 restrictions, the show returns on April 15 live from a new venue — the BB&T Center in Sunrise. South Florida has long served as a second home of sorts for Latin music’s biggest artists, with many of them recording and taking up permanent residence in Miami. Coupling that factor of convenience with a successful broadcast could make producers consider keeping the ceremony in South Florida going forward.
So what can you expect if you tune in? Artists including Maluma, Carlos Vives, Nicky Jam, and even Carrie Underwood have already been announced as performers, as has Karol G, who ties J Balvin as the most nominated artist of the night with nine nominations. Bad Bunny and Ozuna aren’t far behind with eight and seven nominations, respectively. There may be more fans than ever supporting their favorites in the largely fan-voted award show as Latin music continues to expand its reach within the United States, but South Florida knows these artists better than most. Have your say by voting on Twitter or the Latin AMAs website.
Here’s a roundup of the artists who should win big at this year’s ceremony.
Ozuna outdid himself this year with two album releases in less than five months.
Photo by Dimelo Vi
Favorite Male Artist
Nominees: Anuel AA, Bad Bunny, Christian Nodal, J Balvin, Maluma, Ozuna
Four of the night’s most-nominated artists — Bad Bunny, J Balvin, Maluma, and Ozuna — are represented in the Favorite Male Artist category as well as the evening’s top award, Artist of the Year. So it stands to reason that the Favorite Male Artist award may serve as a consolation prize of sorts for the Artist of Year runners-up.
Excluding the artist who rightfully deserves the top prize of the night (more on that below), this category should be a prizefight between Maluma and Ozuna. The former’s hit “Hawái” single soundtracked a summer spent in quarantine. Still, Ozuna outdid himself this year with two album releases in less than five months: He released ENOC last September, spawning the hit single “Caramelo,” before teaming up with fellow nominee Anuel AA on the collaborative album Los Dioses in January 2021.
In the end, Ozuna may inadvertently have given his collaborator an edge towards a repeat win: Anuel AA took home the Favorite Male Artist award in 2019.
Karol G’s collaboration with Nicki Minaj expanded her audience this year.
Photo by Andres Flores
Favorite Female Artist
Nominees: Anitta, Becky G, Karol G, Natti Natasha, Shakira
While this category contains some longtime favorites (Shakira) and artists who have yet to get their proper due (Anitta), and two whole G’s, it is indisputable that Karol G topped her fellow nominees this year. That was largely due to “Tusa,” her collaborative single with Nicki Minaj, which became the Colombian singer’s biggest hit to date and introduced her to English-speaking audiences. The song is also nominated for Song of the Year, contributing to her impressive nine nominations.
Still, there’s a chance that Becky G’s fans might band together to pull off an upset — the singer won the award for Favorite Female Artist at the 2019 ceremony.
Anuel AA swept at the 2019 Latin AMAs.
Photo courtesy of the aritst
Album of the Year
Nominees: Anuel AA, Emmanuel; Bad Bunny, YHLQMDLG; J Balvin, Colores; Natanael Cano, Corridos Tumbados
If recent history is any indication, Anuel AA might be a shoo-in for this category. The Puerto Rican rapper and singer swept at the 2019 Latin AMAs, with his debut album Real Hasta La Muerte being awarded the Album of the Year Award. Among the albums it beat out were the wildly popular Aura by Ozuna and Luis Fonsi’s Vida, which included the little-known single “Despacito.”
Despite the popularity and critical acclaim for Bad Bunny’s YHLQMDLG, Anuel AA may once again pull off an upset. Rigged!
In late 2020, Bad Bunny’s El Último Tour Del Mundo, became the first all-Spanish-language album to reach number one on the Billboard 200.
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for the Recording Academy
Artist of the Year
Nominees: Anuel AA, Bad Bunny, Christian Nodal, Daddy Yankee, Eslabon Armado, J Balvin, Karol G, Maluma, Ozuna, Sech
Bad Bunny came in second in nominations for this year’s Latin AMAs, but there’s no question he owned the industry this year, releasing two beloved albums that became bright spots in an otherwise cursed year. The latter, El Último Tour Del Mundo, became the first all-Spanish-language album to reach number one on the Billboard 200. For that feat alone, he deserves the night’s top award.
But fan-voted award shows such as the Latin AMAs often come down to the dedication of fan armies, sometimes leading to unexpected wins. That may once again bode well for Anuel AA, who swept at the 2019 ceremony, taking home five awards, including Favorite Male Artist, Album of the Year, and Artist of the Year.
Of course, there’s always a chance that Bad Bunny’s fans will come back re-energized to avenge the rapper’s 2019 Latin AMAs shutout.
Latin American Music Awards airs at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 15, on Telemundo.
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